Well, I tried to inform everyone of just how bad Northwestern was this year, but apparently predicting a 20+ point victory didn’t shed enough light on it. That may be the worst team i’ve ever seen Pat Fitzgerald put on the field. We were moving them around, and they were completely lost. Fordham looked better than they did. That truly was the worst team we’ve played this year. Northwestern only has two wins this year, one against Indiana State (FCS) and one against Ohio who is a bigger train wreck than they are.
I made mention in my tweet that if you were tired of the negative posts that this past Saturday would be for you. Remember the debate that our staff would say how great we are through fall camp, now our fans are seeing basically what our staff saw in practice. But take it even a step further, do we think that all of a sudden Prochazaka and Nouilli were the answers? Or Yant for that matter? What i’m getting at, is did we have absolute studs just sitting on the bench not playing resulting in us being 2-3 and having an inept offense? Or was it a little bit that we played a horrific team that was like going against our scout team? I digress.
But a lot of that had to do with Nebraska as well. For the majority of this staffs tenure, we would get our doors blown off by teams better than us, and basically play teams close when we shouldn’t. How great was it to not have to say “ya, well we just look better after a 52-17 blowout against Ohio State. Saturday was a huge step forward, and no matter how good or bad Northwestern in, 56-7 is a statement that you are a good football team. And we talked about how we needed that confidence heading into a showdown with top 10 Michigan, who will be a completely different animal. I talked in my preview about how teams defenses were really showing out this year due to the 6th year players, or seniors that got another year due to Covid. Nebraska has guys like Domann, Stille, Williams, and Dismuke which is why we are seeing lights out defense on our end. Northwestern basically lost everyone and have a bunch of new players trying to figure out how to compete against veteran teams.
And from one of the very first plays you could see it. Martinez escapes the pocket and hucks the ball deep between two defenders to our one WR and completely underthrows it, for whatever reason the one Northwestern defender tries to jump backwards and dive and catch it at his stomach while letting Toure just run in front of him and catch it:
Northwestern gets pressure, and a team like Michigan is going to pick that off if we throw into double coverage. While that play helps my “Toure will have a big day” prediction from my preview, it’s a losing play against a team that is decent. But let’s circle this back positive.
I want to give props to our staff with what they found in Brewington in the redzone. If you remember, I was really questioning if Hickman was the right person to be in the game down there, because he offers zero blocking ability and then a hint of pass catching. He was basically like inserting another WR to go block in the box. But watch what Brewington brings to the table as he’s in motion here:
But I also need to point something else out for us. Remember, not that long ago Kade Warner was Martinez’s security blanket and guys of his caliber were playing out wide. I don’t know what changed where we allowed guys like Manning and Betts on the field, but those are difference makers that even if the defense is played near perfectly, they can’t defend what our guys. This play is a great example of what i’ve been talking about the past 3.5 years with this staff. There is zero reason that a team as bad as Northwestern should be able to stay close with us. Check this play out that was defended decently by the Wildcats:
But to circle it back a bit… I just don’t understand how Northwestern got so bad this year. I get the Covid thing I mentioned earlier, but they should still have D1 football players out there. Take a look at this LB #32… where on earth is he going?
Michigan is the game where i’ll be able to know if “we were close” or not. Because this Northwestern team was basically Fordham. But it’s nice to finally take a P5 team to the woodshed and not play down to competition.
The ESPN FPI have been updated and we are not predicted to win 3 more, as they have moved Wisconsin to a probable win now instead of loss, which would get us to a bowl game.
My apologies for a short recap, but quite honestly it was tough to gain much from the film because it looked like we went against a team that didn’t prepare for us at all. They were so lost out there and when you couple that with our guys dominating them up front it made for a really long day for Pat Fitzgerald and his team.
I look forward to diving into Michigan.